Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Have You Seen Common Core Multiplication?

I came across a strange video on Facebook in which an elementary school teacher explains the Common Core multiplication method.

I hate math, but if I had been forced to learn the Common Core multiplication method when I was in school, I can guarantee you that I would have hated math even more.

I’ve heard a lot about Common Core over the years, and most of it was certainly negative.

Then I came across a video posted to Facebook that purports to feature an elementary school teacher explaining how to multiple numbers as taught in Common Core.

This website claims this is a multiplication method introduced to 4th and 5th graders and reinforces 3rd-grade geometry lessons that teach the area of a rectangle is its length multiplied by its width; this multiplication method, therefore, is called the “Area Model” and is commonly referred to as the “Box Method.”

And I think it’s one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever seen.

In the video, we’re shown how to multiply the numbers 35 and 12:

This instructor takes more than three minutes to explain how to process this math problem.

Before she even drew the box, in my head — and remember: I hate math! — I figured it this way: 30 x 12 is 360. (3 x 12 would be 36, but since it’s 30 instead of 3, you add a zero.) Then 5 x 12 is 60. Add 360 and 60 and you get 420.

If you were going to write it out the way we were taught, you’d stack the numbers, lining up the digits.

Compare, for example, this video from someone who’s obviously not a fan of Common Core multiplication and has spliced in the stacking method we were taught back when I was in school:

He makes a good point: if the students taught this method are taking a standardized test that features many multiplication problems, this process, compared with what we grew up with, might just cost them precious time they can’t afford to lose.

Even someone who isn’t pausing to explain the process step by step is going to spend a lot more time on the overly-complicated Box Method.

It seems to me that if we’re trying to revolutionize how math is taught, we ought to be looking for ways that are more efficient that help us solve problems faster.

We live in an age in which technology is already replacing humans because it can do things faster than we can. Why would we adopt teaching processes that slow us down that much more?

From my perspective, this just doesn’t add up.

What do you think about this alternative to the multiplication we were taught?

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 27 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.